Thank God for the Senate Republicans!

Into every tragically depressing world situation some light must shine if you wait long enough and the planets align just right.

That glimmer of light came yesterday from, of all places, the Death Star known by many as Washington, D.C., from deep within one of the most unfathomable quadrants of that bleakness–the chambers of the United States Senate. Even more remarkably, it sprang from what some consider a true black hole–the Republican caucus.

But light it is, and in these times we need to celebrate every photon that comes our way.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 53-45, seven votes short of the 60 needed to advance the bill, against a $50,000,000,000 “supplemental” funding measure passed earlier this week by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. What the Republicans objected to was the limp, inconsequential troop withdrawal plan supported by House and Senate Democrats–something that Groucho Marx would have much more accurately termed, “a sham of a mockery of a sham.”

The sham-of-a-mockery-of-a-withdrawal the Democrats wrote and the Republicans just could not stomach, required the president to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq by December 15, 2008–all except a few thousand for “protecting United States diplomatic facilities;” perhaps ten thousand or so for “conducting limited training, equipping, and providing logistical and intelligence support to the Iraqi security forces,” a few more thousand for “protecting United States Armed Forces and American citizens” in Iraq, including those pillars of the community from Blackwater, Inc.; and a few more thousand for “engaging in targeted counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda affiliated groups, and other terrorist organizations in Iraq.”

They actually called this a limited presence.

This was the “withdrawal” plan the Democrats wanted in exchange for another 50 billion dollars to continue the war. To paraphrase the late Republican Senator Everett Dirksen: “Even though the dollar is rapidly going down the toilet, pretty soon it adds up to real money.”

To the Senate Republicans I send a warm “thank you” for killing a $50,000,000,000 cash infusion into this tragic, illegal war.

To the scores of peace activists around the country preparing to occupy their U.S. Senators’ local offices to press them to vote against more war funding I say, “Declare victory in this round. And then get 10 friends to pledge to occupy those offices with you in February, when the Democrats will feel compelled to bail out Bush again.”

To and similar groups whose main purpose in life is toadying up to the Democratic Party, I say, “Spare us your electronic mobilizations of well-meaning citizens to bombard the airwaves and street corners with a Damn the Republicans for voting against a timetable to end the war’ message. Leave the internet lines open for more meaningful emails like Nigerian business opportunities and penis patches.”

And to anyone who thinks this too cynical or too hard on our last, best hope, the Congressional Democrats, I commend this pompous, arrogant, condescending quote, dripping with hubris from a leading Senate liberal, Carl Levin (D-MI), during yesterday’s Senate debate: “We need to do more than say to the Iraqis that our patience has run out and that they need to seize the opportunity that has been given them … Their dawdling will only end when they have no choice.”

Yes, it’s quite an opportunity we’ve given the Iraqis, Senator Levin … but then they are such an ungrateful, dawdling lot.

MIKE FERNER is a former Navy corpsman and author of “Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq“. He can be reached at:


Mike Ferner is National Director of Veterans For Peace and a former member of Toledo City Council. He can be reached at